Dismissal of Lawsuit Brought by Expelled White Student Against Howard Law School Allows Some Claims to Proceed

A short excerpt from today’s long decision by Judge Trevor McFadden (D.D.C.) in Newman v. Howard Univ. School of Law (for more, read the whole thing):

The court rejects Newman’s claim that the school violated some of its own policies, because it concludes the policies didn’t form a binding contract. But it allows Newman’s “breach of contract claim based on his scholarship agreement” (and related claim for “breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing”) to go forward:

The court likewise allows a race discrimination claim based on this alleged breach to go forward (Newman alleged that the changes in the grading system stemmed in part from Newman’s being white). Note that, as usual in a motion to dismiss, the court doesn’t decide whether the allegations are factually accurate; it considers only whether, if the allegations are accurate, the defendant’s conduct could indeed be said to be legally actionable.

The court rejects Newman’s other discrimination claims, which claimed race-based disparate treatment, the toleration of a racially hostile environment, and retaliation for claims of discrimination.

And the court allows Newman’s defamation claim to go forward but only as to two of the six statements he alleged were defamatory:

The court concludes that some of the statements were true and therefore couldn’t be defamatory:

The court also concludes that the “[Newman was] argumentative with her and McGahee” statement is opinion. But it allows the defamation claim to go forward based on “two potentially actionable statements by Holley: first, her description of Newman’s email about his classmate’s death as ‘defamatory,’ and second, her claim that Newman said ‘African-Americans suffer from hive mind.'”

The Court therefore dismisses all of Newman’s defamation claims except those pertaining to Holley’s description of Newman’s email about his classmate’s death as “defamatory” and Holley’s claim that Newman said “African-Americans suffer from hive mind.”

And the court dismisses Newman’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim:

There also remain some claims against third parties, which weren’t the subject of a motion to dismiss. Here’s an extended excerpt from the factual allegations: